6 Facts About The JLENS Blimp

30 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Army blimp wreaks havoc in Maryland.

MUNCY, Pa. (AP) — The remaining section of an Army blimp that broke loose in Maryland and came to rest in the Pennsylvania countryside will be removed over the weekend. Pentagon officials are investigating what caused a 250-foot surveillance blimp to break from its mooring at a military base in Maryland on Wednesday and float 150 miles before crashing in rural Pennsylvania.A hi-tech US military blimp designed to detect a missile attack came loose and wreaked havoc as it floated from Maryland into Pennsylvania while dragging more than 1km of cable and knocking out power to thousands.

The US military scrambled two armed F-16 fighter jets to keep watch as the massive blimp travelled into civilian airspace after coming untethered from its base at Aberdeen Proving Ground, a US Army facility 65km north of Baltimore. Curious residents trickled into a staging area as the military began gathering up some 6,000 feet of tether, as well as the blimp’s huge hull and a smaller tail piece, a process expected to take at least through Friday. The white behemoth still had helium in its nose when it went down in a steep ravine on Wednesday afternoon, and the “easiest way possible” to drain the gas was to shoot it, Villa said. US Army Captain Matthew Villa said that while authorities were able to remove sensitive electronics that were onboard, it could take weeks to remove the entire aircraft. The 240-foot helium-filled blimp, which had two fighter jets on its tail, came down near Muncy, a small town about 80 miles north of Harrisburg, the state capital.

The craft is known as a Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, or JLENS, and can be used to detect hostile missiles and aircraft. The program is designed to help defend the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area against cruise missiles in addition to drone aircraft and “surface moving targets” such as swarming boats and tanks. He said the probe is considered “Class A,” a label applied to an event that might have caused at least $2 million in property damage; involved a destroyed, missing or abandoned Army aircraft or missile; or caused injury.

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